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Full text of "Suggestions as to the conduct of a mission"

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SUGESTIONS AS TO THE CONDUCT 
OF A MISSION. 

EDITED BY 

THE SOCIETY OF S. JOHN THE EVANGELIST, 

AT COWLEY, OXFORD. 




HE leading idea of a Mission is to bring the great eternal 
truths which concern the salvation of the soul so promi- 
nently before men's eyes, and to din the message of 
God so plainly in their ears, that, at least for once, invisible 
things may seem as true as visible ones, and the voice of God 
louder than the hubbuo of the world. This is to be effected by 
concentrating all the spiritual powers of the Church upon one 
place and one time. The time must not be too short, or the 
impression is not deep enough — nor too long, lest there be a 
reaction. Experience shows that twelve days is certainly not 
too long. 

The two great weapons of the Church in this attack are, prayer 
and preaching. With one wo compel God, with the other man. 
Joshua wars in the valley, while Moses intercedes on the mount. 
The exercises of the Mission may all be reduced to these two 
heads, and they must be prosecuted with vigour, both by the 
clergy and also by the pious laity. 

Preparation for the Mission. 

The people should be informed beforehand that the advan 
tage of a special season of grace is to be offered to them, and 



urged to make use of it; and this may be done both in sermons 
and parochial visits, and by the distribution of handbills. Also 
meetings may be held of people of the same occupation, or of 
fathers, or of mothers, explaining and inviting them to it. Bnt 
especially those who are devout should be engaged to unite in 
prayer for it — and this either by meeting at certain times for 
prayer, by the use in private of certain special prayers, or by the 
devoting of a certain number of days — say nine — in a very marked 
way to intercession on behalf of the Mission. Perhaps the best 
preparation is to combine all these by 

(1) Giving to all who will use it a little printed form of prayer, 

to be said alone or at family prayers. 

(2) Inviting people to a special meeting for intercession one 

evening in the week. 

(3) Pledging the devout few who are willing and able to 

keep a Special Preparatory Season of Intercessory 
Prayer. 

This may be kept obviously in many ways. One way is 
subjoined. 

Rules for a Special Season of Intercession. 

Those who keep it promise to 

(A) Attend the Holy Eucharist, and either Matins or Even- 
song, every day. 

(B) Each day, at seven different times, say one " Our Father," 
in honour successively of the seven precious Blood- 
sheddings of our Lord. 

(C) On two days make some act of fasting or mortification. 

(D) Make one offering of money for some pious object. 

All these to be offered to God with the intention of obtaining 
a blessing on the Mission. 

But let all be brought to pray in such manner as they best 
can, using any other method which may be approved. 



The Mission itself. 

The first weapon being prayer, those who have been praying 
before will not fail to contine their prayers during the Mission, 
and the faithful should be especially urged to attend the Holy 
Eucharist with this intention — whether they communicate or 
not. Both to give them opportunity according to their hours of 
work of attending, and also for the sake of the benefit resulting 
from an increase in the number of Celebrations, there should if 
possible be as many Celebrations daily as there are priests to 
celebrate. If Matins and Evensong are usually said publicly in 
the Church, they should be continued at the same hours, unless 
they interfere with the special Mission services. The Sunday 
services would also remain unaltered, except by addition. 

Special Exercises of the Mission. 

I. The Mission Sermon. — This is the chief of them, and in 
general should be at the hour when most people can attend — say 
7.30 or 8 p.m. It may be preceded by a few Collects and a couple 
of Hymns; or, when the people are at all used to the forms of 
the Church service, by an abridged Evensong — e.g., Lord's 
Prayer, 51st and 130th Psalms, special Lessons selected by the 
preacher — from 6 to 20 verses each — -Canticles, Creed, lesser 
Litany, &c, as far as 3rd Collect, and a Hymn. The same 
preacher will preach a course of Sermons, beginning on the 
Sunday evening, and lasting to the end of the Mission. They 
will be on the simple great leading truths — the Soul — Sin — Hell 
— Death — Judgement — Repentance — Salvation through Jesus — 
the Church — Heaven. After the Sermon is a Litany sung kneeling, 
that the people may give vent to their feelings in prayer. Then 
comes a Hymn and the Llessiug. 

After the Mission Service, as many as possible should be 
induce! to attend the Instruction Class, the Bible Class, or the 
Prayer Meeting, any or all of which may be held at the dis- 
cretion of the Pariah Priest 

II. The Instruction Cla s. — When persona' feelings have been 
wrought upon by the Sermon to care for the salvation of their 



souls, one must be careful to show them what they are to do to be 
saved; and for this purpose it is well to hold an Instruction Class 
in the Church immediately after the service. To the first of these 
all are invited — nay, earnestly begged — if possible to stay, that it 
may be understood by them what its nature is. But after the 
first evening it is explained that this Class of Instruction is not 
intended for persons who do not accept the teaching of the Church, 
but for those who wish to learn of her — either initially or more 
perfectly — the way of salvation. Consequently, they are asked to 
give in their names to some of the clergy or lay helpers if they 
wish to attend. It is not necessary strictly to enforce this rule. 
It is sufficient for the Class to feel that they are not present as 
critics, but as children of the Church, and for the clergy to have 
a list which may be very valuable to them after the Mission. 

The Priest who takes this Class comes into Church in his 
cassock or ordinary dress. He brings all those who remain for 
it into one convenient part of the Church, close together, and 
walks about amongst them, speaking quite simply and familiarly 
to them as friends. He takes them through a course of instruc- 
tion on the practical duties of the religion of a Christian. He 
explains how to pray — the benefit of the Sacraments — how to 
prepare for Holy Communion — how to examine oneself — how to 
make a confession — what a good confession is— how to conquer 
various sins — how to meditate — the duties of almsgiving and 
fasting— and any others which it may seem advisable to dwell on. 
He supports what he teaches from Holy Scripture, and makes it 
clear by illustration, and ends by prayer, which had better in 
general be extempore. The whole exercise should not exceed 
half an hour. Though best in the evening, this Class may of 
course be held at other times. 

III. The Prayer Meeting. — This exercise also should imme- 
diately follow the Sermon. It may either be instead of the Class, 
or take place at the same time and under the guidance of another 
Priest. If the Schoolroom is used for it, some fresh poor may be 
brought in who are shy of attending Church, for this is an exer- 
cise eminently suited to reach the most ignorant and debased. 

The Priest begins by a short address, which in character is 
like the peroration of the Sermon, and then implores all who 



have neglected the care of their souls to pray earnestly for the 
help of God. He leads them altogether at first, but afterwards 
leaves them to pray in silence separately, whilst he goes round to 
speak quietly with each about his soul. Other clergy help him 
in this work, and at the end the meeting is dismissed with a 
common prayer aud a blessing. 

IV. The Bible Class, like the Instruction Class, is an exercise 
which may be held at any time of the day. It may take the 
place of the Instruction Class or Prayer Meeting after the Sermon, 
or may be held, for the sake of married women, servants, &c> 
in the afternoon. It differs from the Instruction Class in being 
open to all, whether unbelievers, dissenters, or Church people, 
and consequently in observing a certain reticence about the mys- 
teries of the faith. It consists of an exposition of Holy Scripture, 
plain, familiar, and affectionate — tending to lead people gradually 
on, by showing them that there is much more hidden in Holy 
Scriptures than they who are not taught by the Church can 
discern for themselves. 

V. The Meditation is an exercise which is much valued by 
pious persons of all ranks of society. .For the sake of the poor, 
and those who attend early services, it may be given at an early 
hour — say 6, 7, or 8 in the morning — being preceded and followed 
by a celebration of the Holy Eucharist. For the sake of those 
who have more leisure, it may be held at 11 or 12 o'clock in the 
day. If early, it should not last more than 20 minutes ; if later, 
it may be two or three times as long. 

After singing the Veni Creator together, the Preacher seats 
himself facing and close to the congregation, who sit or kneel as 
they please. 

The exercise consists of a consideration of some truth in the 
way of soliloquy, interspersed with colloquy or prayer to God. 
At the end all kneel for a few minutes of silent prayer, and then 
repeat together the Auima Christi, or some other suitable form. 

VI. The Conference is a Sermon well reasoned and carefully 
prepared, especially addressed to the thinking portion of « 

It deals with the objections commonly put forward against the 
scheme and parts of revealed religion ; or, taking a positive line, i t 



works out the system of the Catholic religion in its bearings upon 
the life of man. It evidently needs a preacher of intellectual 
ability as well as of earnestness and eloquence, and is suited to a 
Church which could obtain a morning, midday, or afternoon 
congregation. No more prelude or conclusion is necessary than 
the preacher can give from the pulpit. 

VII. The Notice is a small but very important part of a Mis- 
sion. It is given immediately before the Mission Sermon, either 
by the conductor of the Mission or by the Parish Priest. He 
speaks to them of any practical matters belonging to the Mission, 
the attendance of the people — their prayers — the subjects which 
are going to be brought before them — the hours and places at 
which the clergy may be seen privately — the nature of the 
Instruction Class or the Prayer Meeting, &c. — anything of this 
sort which he wishes particularly they should attend to. It 
should not occupy more than two or three minutes, and should 
not encroach on the province of the Sermon, but be as simple, 
direct, and unadorned as he can make it, consistently with his 
earnest desire that they should protit by the Mission. 

Dealing with Individuals. 

This is the most important part of a Mission. The public 
teaching must be supplemented by this, or the fruit will be com- 
paratively small. Souls cannot be saved in masses. Each must 
be dealt with alone. The good shepherd will take up the erring 
sheep one by one on his shoulders, to carry them back to the 
fold. Throughout the whole of the Mission, from beginning to 
end, the clergy, both parochial and missionary, must give all 
their spare time to seeking out those who are impressed, and 
leading them one by one, according to their needs, in the way of 
salvation. 

In this work, however, there are great obstacles :— 

(1) A natural reserve and hesitation about intruding on a Clergy- 
man. — The Mission Priests will endeavour to break down this 
barrier, by showing the true relation between priest and people, 
and their own desire to be simply the servants of the people for 
Jesus' sake. 



(2) A false shame of letting others know that they have been 
moved. — This wall must be battered forcibly and unsparingly at 
the time of a Mission, until it falls before the power of God. 

(3) The want of places in which to see people privately. — Besides 
the vestry, there are sometimes other rooms belonging to a 
Church which may be used for this purpose. If not, it is well 
to curtain off some small space in a retired part to be used for 
this. If both Priest and penitent speak in a whisper, there are 
few churches in which arrangements may not be made for several 
Priests either to talk with persons or hear confessions without 
danger of being overheard. 

The devout laity, both men and women, as well as the paro- 
chial clergy, may be of great use in bringing people to speak with 
the Mission clergy about their souls. To this end it is well for 
the Mission Priest to meet all who are willing to help in the 
Mission either on the Saturday before the Mission begins, or on 
the first Sunday, that he may make their acquaintance and urge 
them to bring others to him. 

Confessions. 

The clergy must be prepared to hear confessions at all times 
during a Mission, from morning to night. Those persons who 
have attended the Instruction Classes in Church will not in 
general need any further instruction in private before making 
their confession. No one, as a general rule, should be put off 
who comes in earnest to make confession. Illiterate people will 
always require the help of the Priest to question them, and would 
not be better prepared if they had a longer time given them. 
Those who come with penitence, but without sufficient self- 
examination, may be required to come again to complete their 
confession. But the troubled soul should always be allowed to 
unburden itself at once. 

To economise time the shortest form of the Confiteor should 
be used. The Priest should never be impatient with any penitent 
whose confession really needs a long time, which will sometimes 
happen, though he may find many who can be heard very quickly 
without any injury. lie will arrange with women to eome as 
much as possible iu the day, since men frequently only have 
leisure at night. 



Further advice as to hearing Coifessions will be found in the 
"Priest's Prayer Book," and " The Priest in Absolution" {Masters). 
Also see "Pardon through the Precious Blood" {Palmer). 

Fixing the Results of the Mission. 
All persons who wish to profit by the Mission should be urged 
to take some practical step to fix their good intentions. Some 
will give their names to the Parish Priest to be prepared for 
Baptism, Confirmation, Confession, or Holy Communion, as the 
case may be. Some will join some Parochial Guild or Religious 
Association. Some who have been hitherto living pious lives 
will make definite resolutions for a more perfect service of 
God. Some who have been given to excessive drinking, may 
make solemn promises of abstinence for a limited time, or until 
the promise is withdrawn. If the Parish Priest has been 
intending to introduce or form in his parish any new Eeligious 
Association, the end of the Mission will be a good time for 
starting it. 

The last Service of the Mission 

should be a celebration of the Holy Eucharist at the hour when 
most can attend — even if it be necessary to have it as early as 
5 a.m. All who have profited by the Mission should come and 
offer up their resolutions to God together, and probably many 
will communicate. 

Handbills 

should be circulated containing the hours of the services, &c, 
and the subjects of the Sermons, with a short Pastoral Letter 
upon the Mission. 

If Out- door Preaching is practised, it should be with the object 
of bringing people to the Mission Services. 

It is well to get some person to stand outside the Church 
during the Mission, and sell books of devotion, tracts, &c, which 
may help on the work. Especially one little book should be sold, 
containing the special Hymns and Litany to be sung during the 
Mission, Prayers to be used during the continuance of it, with a 
Preface explaining what the Mission is. 



W. Knott, Printer, Greville Street, Holborn. 



BOSTON PUBLIC LIBRARY 



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